Though Fushimi Modern Japanese Cuisine & Lounge's menu and daily specials board boast French-inspired fusion food, its sushi is deeply rooted in tradition?and this combination has earned its dishes Zagat ratings and a Michelin recommendation. Chefs may reinterpret the presentation of Japanese staples?such as the tuna sashimi, which they set on broad leaves next to bean-sprout-entangled roe?but they still stay true to traditional flavors. By contrast, cooked fusion entrees tend to incorporate the unconventional, such as the tuna burger with spicy aioli, available on the weekend brunch menu, and the mushroom risotto made with black rice (a dish praised by New York Magazine in their critics' pick review.)
At all locations, the decor also melds old and new. At the bar at the Staten Island location, crimson light filters through a canopy of metallic foliage, casting a moody aura across Buddhist statuettes imported from Asia. The neon-lit Williamsburg location has a sleeker feel, its booths nestled in large circular openings that bring to mind subway tunnels or the oversized portholes of Paul Bunyan's mythical submarine. In Bay Ridge, the stateliness of traditional chandeliers contrasts with the bold colors of wall-sized photographs.
The foundation of Goodfella's signature brick-oven pizzas starts with high-quality ingredients such as semolina dough, fresh mozzarella, and homemade sauce. Yet that’s not the only way to make a pizza that gets a lot of attention: at the International Pizza Challenge in 2007, 2009, and 2012, the pizzeria took home prizes in the nontraditional pizza category for the unorthodox toppings its chefs paired with that base. Now they bring that creativity to Goodfella’s every day, with ingredients that include roasted rosemary potatoes, roasted-pepper-cream sauce, and peas, just some of the toppings on the 12 specialty pies. Alternatively, diners with their own visions of the ideal pizza can opt instead to create their own combinations. Pizza aside, the Goodfella's Bayonne's menu includes Italian and American classics such as homemade cheese ravioli and 16-ounce steaks seared in a brick oven at 900 degrees, the same temperature required to melt potatoes back into vodka.
Family-sized platters emerge from the kitchen alongside individual portions of familiar Italian entrees, entering into a petite but lavishly dressed dining room that the Hudson Reporter referred to as "one of those quality places that doesn’t intimidate you" in a 2011 feature. The menu's selection boasts housemade ravioli, grilled Atlantic salmon, and cuts of veal in one of the chefs' hearty sauces. To accompany meals, Buon Appetito also stocks its cellar with wines from across Italy and California, including fruit-forward reds and refreshing whites that are chilled to their ideal drinking temperatures inside of an igloo.
The dining room maintains a welcoming yet refined ambience, with black linens draped over every table, a ceiling lined with small crystal chandeliers, and walls filled with vibrantly colored vintage advertisements. Buon Appetito's delicatessen fulfills a separate gastronomic purpose, plying visitors with cheeses, sausages, and imported Italian foods instead of fully prepared entrees.
Drawing on his experience as chef and owner of Aesop's Table, executive chef Dominick Rappa constantly updates the menu of seasonally inspired fare at Rick's Cafe. Waiters serve wine and cocktails to pair with dishes topped with such toothsome curiosities as truffle porcini cream, chipotle ketchup, and marrownaise. Inspired by the character Rick Blaine from Casablanca, owner Joseph Aliotta steeps Rick's Cafe in a classic ambience set to big-band music—the building itself dates back from the Prohibition era, having sprouted from a single cluster of hops. Drinking glasses refract light onto an antique mahogany bar in front of an exposed brick wall. A fireplace illuminates cherry hardwood floors in the dining room, and a private outdoor patio hosts alfresco dining.
The flickering fireplace in the dining room of Pepper Jack Grill casts a warm glow over the bilevel booths and pale-yellow walls adorned with local artwork. In the kitchen, chefs grill rib eye steaks alongside Angus beef and turkey-burger patties for patrons to customize with toppings from the burger bar such as apricot-chipotle barbecue sauce and handcut bacon. Pintsize chandeliers light the full half-moon-shape bar, where bartenders pour signature sangria, shakertinis, and goblets of black-cherry-bourbon sours. Live entertainment tickles the ears of diners while they watch sports games on flat-screen televisions or meander toward the outdoor patio lounge to shush overhead stars.
The chefs at Mojito Grill immerse the intimate dining area with the savory scents of classic Cuban fare. Employing a decades-old cooking method, they use traditional la caja china roasting boxes to prepare hearty cuts of pork, steak, poultry, and fish. These special ovens heat to extreme temperatures, but keep the flames from ever touching the succulent slabs. This seals in flavor and juices while creating a crispy exterior. Marinated churrasco skirt steak, grilled wild salmon in a guava glaze, and roasted pork highlight the menu alongside traditional Cuban sandwiches. Delectable flavors can be relished with a Cuban coffee and bookended by a Cuban flan.